Girl Scout Cookie season is going strong. Girl Scout Cookies have been around for a long time and cookie fans probably already know that Thin Mints have long been the most popular flavor. But you might be surprised by what you don’t know about Girl Scout Cookies, and these 10 pieces of cookie trivia will make a great accompaniment to the next box of cookies that you open.
1. Girl Scout Cookies were first sold in 1917. They were baked from scratch by individual scouts.
2. In 1936, the cookies had become so popular that the Girl Scouts moved to commercial bakeries to produce their cookies. Keebler Bakery became the first commercial baker of Girl Scout Cookies. By 1978, four different companies were producing the cookies.
3. Currently, there are two bakeries that produce the cookies, ABC Bakers and Little Brownie Bakers. Little Brownie Bakers is a division of Keebler, which is why you see Keebler Girl Scout look-a-likes on grocery shelves during the off-season. ABC Bakers is owned by Interbake Foods.
4. The two bakeries that produce Girl Scout Cookies call their cookies by different names and they use different recipes. The names are a good way to tell which bakery is producing your cookies. ABC’s cookies include Caramel de Lites, Peanut Butter Patties, Peanut Butter Sandwiches and Shortbreads. Little Brownie Bakers cookies’ include Samoas, Tagalongs, Do-si-dos and Trefoils.
5. One of the two bakeries, ABC Bakers, produces four completely vegan cookie varieties: Lemonades, Thanks-A-Lot, Thin Mints and Peanut Butter Patties. Thin Mints produced by Little Brownie Bakers are also vegan, but their Do-Si-Dos (which look just like Peanut Butter Patties) are not.
6. Most of the revenue from cookie sales goes to local Girl Scout councils, not necessarily directly to the individual troops selling the cookies. The councils, in turn, sponsor a variety of programs for Scouts to participate in and they offer financial assistance to girls and troops who could otherwise no afford to participate in such events. Roughly 10-15% of sales goes straight to the individual troops that you buy your cookies from.
7. 25% of all Girl Scout Cookies sold are Thin Mints. The second most popular cookie are Samoas, or Caramel de Lites, which account for 19% of sales.
8. Leftover and unsold Girl Scout cookies are difficult to dispose of. It’s hard for a council to predict how many boxes they might sell in a season. The official word from the Girl Scouts is that individual councils are “encouraged to work with local food pantries” but those leftover cookies sometimes end up in landfills instead.
9. 2014 was the first year that the Girl Scouts offered a gluten free cookie option, though it was only offered in some regions to see how it fared compared to traditional cookies with Girl Scout Cookie fans. The cookies met with mixed success and were discontinued, but the Girl Scouts subsequently launched two additional gluten free flavors that met with more positive reviews.
10. More than 30 different varieties of Girl Scout Cookies have been retired over the years, usually because they were not very popular with consumers or because their ingredients made them prohibitively expensive to produce.
(Updated 1/15/2016 to include new cookie information)